- Posted May 12, 2012 by
San Diego, California
A CELEBRATION of LIFE for JUNIOR SEAU
San Diego said farewell to Junior Seau last night. Friday, May 11th, a Celebration of Life was held at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego's Mission Valley.
With a perfect mix of humor, reverence, & love, a host of friends & family paid tribute to "the heart & soul of the Chargers," as the program stated.
Seau committed suicide at the age of 43 in his Oceanside residence on May 1st. The outpouring of disbelief and grief had overtaken the city & the Chargers team organized & paid for this public memorial to bring closure to saddened San Diegans
Seau's stellar football playing career was highlighted by 12 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances--the most by any player in Charger history. He was chosen as one of the 50 greatest Chargers of All Time in 2009, inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2011. The Oceanside native & USC grad is a lock to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, when he first becomes eligible in 2015.
Not only was Junior Seau a great football player, but he was a great man. He had a heart of gold & established the Junior Seau foundation in 1992 to raise money and resources for programs that help children in the community. Through the Seau Foundation, he awarded hundreds of scholarships to college-bound students throughout the San Diego region. Seau was famous for his "Shop with a Jock" program. Every December, he would take several hundred underprivileged kids on a shopping spree to buy gifts for their family & friends. At Thanksgiving, Junior, who opened his popular SEAU'S restaurant in 1996, would host a free holiday meal for military families, victims of domestic violence & residents of homeless shelters. This man's goodness of heart knew no bounds.
So it is understandable how beloved Junior Seau is in the San Diego community. After a emotional private family viewing & funeral, Junior was buried yesterday at the Eternal Hills cemetery in Oceanside.
That evening, it was the Celebration of Life that packed 20,000 fans into Qualcomm Stadium for a remembrance. Pastor Miles McPherson, a former Chargers player & current Pastor of the Rock Church was the Master of Ceremonies. He kept things moving along at just the right emotional pitch & the somber speakers were all excellent & perfectly spoken for the occasion.
Channel 10 News noted that "running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he had looked up to Seau since he was a child. Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts called Seau "the ultimate leader, the ultimate teammate." Linebacker Billy Ray Smith told the crowd that Seau "loved you guys, loved you all." Former Charger coach Bobby Ross, who was the only coach to get the team to the Super Bowl said he never "knew another player that did more for his city" than Junior.
It was amusing that whenever the name came up of the much hated Oakland Raiders team, of which San Diego has a long term rivalry with--there would be a chorus of boo's from the audience. San Diego mayor Jerry Saunders said "perhaps the highest compliment of all was Seau was "always the object of the loudest, nastiest, stupidest chants from the knuckle-dragging hoard of subhumans otherwise known as Raider fans."
After this series of speakers, Chargers owner Dean Spanos took to the podium to retire Junior's number 55 jersey. Looking skyward, I glimpsed a bouquet of colorful balloons tied to a dazzling silver glittered number 55 & a Chargers bolt that drifted towards the heavens.
As the Celebration of Life ended, a type of closure was felt by many as they exited the stadium. Still not understanding what drove Junior to this desperate final act that left behind so much pain in it's wake, the words of former Charger quarterback Dan Fouts ring true:
"Seau's passing was a tragedy & a lesson could be learned. "If you need help, get help," said Fouts, who played for the Chargers from 1973-87. "It's out there. All you have to do is swallow your pride & ask for it.
"We all need help at times. We can all do a better job of helping each other." Amen to that!